Wednesday, 5 August 2015

'Islandic' Bliss

Nanuya Balavu, Fiji

Mantaray Resort on official tourism sheets, the traditional name is Nanuya Balavu and that’s what this Sheep will be going with; more specifically, Nanuya for short. Why, you might ask, because he can so be gone haters! This little gem was included on my Feejee Experience tour back in 2013 and has thus made it onto that list I have of places I want to return to. This Nanuya I speak of is islandic bliss and I’ll tell you why.

Nanuya Balavu, Fiji (taken 2013)

One of the many islands making up the Yasawas, it’s a two hour catamaran ride (based on memory because Google Maps isn’t helping) northish from Port Denarau. The trip was made with Awesome Adventures who work along with Feejee Experience. The ride was bumpy at some points and yes, I was relieved to be on dry land after those said two hours. Humble reminder that this is Fiji, so the peeps in the biz will look out for you; they do their best to make things comfortable.

The island’s welcoming committee was very warm and some tropical drinks were freely given out; by that point I was just getting used to papaya. Once they’ve given you the rundown of how things work they’ll move you onto your sleeping arrangements. Once that’s done, you can do whatever you like. For the environmental junkies out there, Nanuya is an eco-resort so you will be doing nature a favour… and don’t be put off by cold showers. There is Wi-Fi but I wasn’t interested; the peace was everything.  

Nanuya Balavu, Fiji (taken 2013)

Quick note though, if you’re in the dorms ask for a top bunk because the room will be appreciated and you can look at the geckos crawling up the walls (they didn’t bother), and if you should be weary of bed bugs, the staff (who I’m still missing to this day) clean and air the mattresses every few days. There was one woman who objected to this claim and got on the boat back to Nadi the day she arrived, literally leaving me speechless; one of the most annoying and irrelevant headaches I’ve ever had. Now, with these bits and bobs out of the way, I can get to the good stuff.

I was once titled an extreme snorkeler by a Brit I met on the Great Barrier Reef, to which I take no issue with, but the snorkelling around Nanuya is some of the most pleasant and versatile I’ve ever experienced outside of Australia. I’d already done some around Fiji (post to come later) but Nanuya was a hard place to top. The convenience was also a plus.

Nanuya Balavu, Fiji (taken by Ashleigh Moore, 2013)

Right off the beach, and when the tide was in, I was swimming amongst the most colourful fish and coral I’d seen, as well as little stingrays, sea snakes (was told these ones won’t cause any harm), my first eel and an octopus that the island staff kept as a ‘wild pet’. Sadly, I didn’t have my underwater camera back then, but if you should be internetting elsewhere and find pics of Nanuya’s reef, believe what you see.

However, by luck a Northern Irish friend had brought her camera, and by more luck she’d taken it on the manta ray trip a day or so before mine and my Chilean companion’s arrival. Every day a staff member goes out looking for a devil fish to swim with so that others might enjoy its beauty also; once it’s found, the boats are ready to go so be battle ready kiddies.

Nanuya Balavu, Fiji (taken by Ashleigh Moore, 2013)

There is a strong current to consider but everyone gets their view of the majestic creature, or possibly creatures if the universe likes you, flying under the water. I almost think I enjoyed how hectic the experience was. I don’t believe in perfection so the hour or so out on the water was a pleasure to be had. Did have my difficulty in rolling out of the long boat but meh!

The island has its share of other activities, like paddle boarding, fishing and diving; they provide you with an excellent feed and at night they, like every other place spent in Fiji, they break out the music. Whilst the dancing wasn’t pronounced, the staff of Nanuya created their own music which gives them their form, and they do include guests in their performances. At one point we were conga lining and I held no objections. My asocialness was vanquished for the night.
Nanuya Balavu, Fiji (taken 2013)

Another topic worthy of note is that I’m not one for lying around when on holidays. I’m the type of person always looking to keep one’s self busy. However, taking a place on one of the wooden banana lounges, I was overwhelmed by the concept of getting lazy (something my mother has always been critical about) and even having a snooze on the beach. Whilst my legs endured some burns that I’m convinced resembled a few American states, I had very little to argue with, but when snorkelling was back on the agenda that banana lounge became a distant memory.

Nanuya Balavu, Fiji (taken 2013)

Those highlights out of the way, I want to end on a highpoint and for Nanuya, it’s its secret beach. Crossing over the island via its footpath, you’ll discover said beach to be void of all interferences. I think this is the resort’s intention and it’s a good one. Sunset being the best time to swing by, a group of us found ourselves looking out for the little black tipped sharks that were breaking the surface of the water. I’m a shark person so this was enjoyment in its own special way.

So the question is would I make a return trip… I think the answer is more than evident. However I’d make the change and do more island hopping the next time around; one just part of the Yasawas isn’t enough. Nanuya Balavu, I will return and I’ll be bringing my underwater camera.
Bula vinaka! And PS, there was a goat name Jack.

          Nanuya Balavu, Fiji (taken 2013)

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